The Measure of Mario pt.2
Sunday, November 22, 2009 at 10:56PM
Richard Terrell (KirbyKid) in Counterpoint, Genre, Level Design, Platformer, Super Mario Bros.

New Super Mario Brothers was criticised by many for being more of the same familiar Mario gameplay we've experienced for years. In other words, the game wasn't new or original enough. When these critics are pressed for more specifics, they make a general statement like "NSMB is more like SMB than SMB3 or SMW." Since its release in 2006, I haven't found anyone who could articulate exactly how NSMB isn't as creative and original as the other Mario games. At best, I get a recap of the critic's feelings.

Intuition is great. And feelings can be excellent tools for processing data very quickly. However, it takes real analysis and a clear, exacting critical-language to articulate how a game like NSMB's level design compares to the any other 2D Mario platformer. Figuring out just how "new" NSMB is takes research. I've done the work and have assembled everything that we need. Before we can compare the games, we must break down the level design of each Mario game and identify trends. 

To begin we must understand that level design is a very broad term. So, we must break it down into smaller parts. A given 2D Mario platforming level is made up of these parts...



Though all the Maio levels are composed of bricks and tiled objects, each game's levels as a whole have unique themes, shapes, and patterns to their structures. The varying trends are mostly likely due to the evolution of Mario's mechanics as well as the increase in technology, experience, and creativity of the developers. Understanding how the structures and the space around the structures shapes gameplay is the first step to understanding Mario's level design.












 Next up, we look at game ideas; they're the creative conceit of a level.

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